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BC had large increase in EI recipients, number tripled in Williams Lake

In February British Columbia had one of the largest gains among Canadian provinces in the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits.

The number of unemployed people getting EI in B.C. jumped by 11.6 percent from January to February, according to figures Statistics Canada released today. That compares to a 7.8 percent increase nationally.

Since October, the number of EI recipients in B.C. is up by almost 40 percent.

Over the year, from Feb. 2008 to Feb. 2009, the number of people receiving benefits increased by 67 percent across the province, with some of the largest gains in the north.

“The number of beneficiaries almost tripled in Williams Lake, and it doubled further north in Quesnel,” a StatsCan newsletter said. “The number also roughly doubled in Kelowna, Cranbrook, Chilliwack, Powell River and Penticton.”

Victoria saw a year-over-year increase of 89 percent and in Vancouver it was 75 percent.

StatsCan said B.C. has seen employment drop in many sectors, including manufacturing, construction, transportation, retail trade, forestry and logging.

Across the country some 325,700 people filed EI claims, the largest number since StatsCan began keeping such records in 1997.

British Columbians learned yesterday that the provincial economy was in recession in 2008, the Tyee reported, despite past assurances from politicians that the province was in relatively strong financial shape.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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